Sundareswarar Senthalai

Sundareswarar, Senthalai

Saivite Temples, Thanjavur District


Sundareswarar, facing east


Meenakshi, facing south

Other Deities

Surya, Vinayaka, Pancha Mukha Shiva, Saptha Kanniyar, Navagraha, Mappillai Vinayakar, Muruga with Consorts, Kudai Vinayakar, Aadhi Vinayaka, Gajalakshmi, Narasimha Perumal, Padmanabha Perumal, Saneeswara, Bhairava, Appar, Nataraja, Chandran. Sanctum Niches- Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswara. Chandikeswari near goddess Sanctorum.

Sundareswarar Senthalai is a large east-facing temple with 2 Prakarams. A large 5-tiered Rajagopuram is at the entrance in the east. There are two large Dwarapalakas on either side of the Rajagopuram. The outer prakaram is a large one with a beautiful mandapam on the northeast side. On the south side is a four-pillared mandapam. There is a nandavanam in the prakaram. The inner Prakaram is entered through a doorway on the south side facing the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess. Another doorway leads inside the inner Prakaram. This is followed by a 20-pillared mandapam and then the doorway to the inside mandapam. There are two beautiful Dwarapalakas on either side. The inner mandapam also has several pillars and the entrance to the sanctum has two more nice carvings of Dwarapalakas. The Shiva Lingam is a tall one and is said to be Suyambu (self occurring). A special feature here is a large idol of Panchamukha Shiva in human form and a tall idol of Vinayaka with an umbrella on top outside the Muruga shrine. The Somaskanda idol here reveals a line in the jaw when ablution is performed on the day of Radhasapthami (birthday of Lord Surya). On the north side of the inner Prakaram is a shrine for Padmanabha Perumal where an idol of Narasimha is also found. The well found on the opposite in the Prakaram is called Anandha Theertham. The Nataraja idol found here is said to be as beautiful as that in Chidambaram and has two dwarfs at the base on either side of the Thiruvasi, the arch around the idol.

Holy Water (Theertham) – Ananda Theertham

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – Vaagai (Albizia lebbeck)


Sundareswarar Senthalai is an ancient temple and has many inscriptions all around. The present temple structure was built by the Mutharayar Kings who ruled the Thanjavur area between 600 and 850 CE. The full details of these inscriptions are not available as of now.


Sundareswarar Senthalai is connected with the legend of the Madurai Temple and is said to have been built by the queen of the Pandya King who became a Jain, was tormenting Hindus, and closed several temples including the Madurai temple. He was later brought back to Hinduism by the great Saivite saint Thirugnanasambandar. During that time the queen left him and was in this place thus providing the same names of the main deity and goddess as in Madurai. There are said to have been tunnels connecting Sundareswarar Senthalai temple with Madurai and Thanjavur which are not proven and have not been found in later times. Some of the episodes mentioned in the Thiruvilayadal of Lord Shiva at Madurai Temple are said to have happened here at Sundareswarar Senthalai.

Aadhisesha the great snake of Lord Vishnu is believed to have created the Theertham here to provide water for a reclining Vishnu and is called Ananda Theertham. By the time he returned the lord had woken up and was sitting. Thus you find the normally reclining idol of Anantha Padmanabha in a sitting posture here and without Aadisesha. Senthalai, a Gandharva Woman, is believed to have disturbed the penance of Sage Kanva and was cursed to be born as a human. She is believed to have performed penance here to attain salvation and was blessed with the vision of Lord Shiva as Ardhanareeswara (half man, half woman form). the name of the village is Senthalai after her. Lord Brahma is believed to have worshiped Lord Shiva here at Sundareswarar Senthalai. River Cauvery flowing north of this temple provided ample water to fill the vessels being used by Lord Brahma for the ablution of Lord Shiva. The force of the water made the vessels tumble down resulting in the origin of another river called Kudamurutti (Tumbling Vessels), a tributary of River Cauvery, flowing immediately north of Sundareswarar Senthalai and going past Thiruvaiyaru. Since Lord Brahma worshiped Lord Shiva here at Sundareswarar Senthalai, the place is also called Brahmaranyam.


Sundareswarar Senthalai is about 23 kilometers northwest of Thanjavur on the road going towards Thirukattupalli and Kallanai from Kandiyur.

Stay and Food

None locally. Thanjavur is the closest.

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